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BYOD Sparks Privacy Fears

Employees are wary of their employer's ability to peer into their personal lives via their smartphones and tablets.
Posted September 28, 2012
By

Pedro Hernandez


Is your iPhone or iPad helping your employer stalk you?

That's the question many employees are asking as the "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend takes hold in a growing number of workplaces, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Fiberlink, a mobile device management (MDM) firm.

Among the 2,243 enterprise workers polled for the study, 82 percent said that the ability to be tracked by their employers via their mobile devices constituted an invasion of their privacy. Thanks to location-aware technologies like GPS, MDM platforms can give employers an unprecedented look into their employees' lives -- both on and off the clock.

"Although many may not know it, some employers are able to track employee locations during work and non-work hours, which applications they've installed and review or delete personal pictures and music," says Fiberlink. And as this comes to light, the idea that an employer can virtually follow its workers' every step and peer into their smartphones and tablets is being met with widespread disapproval.

According to the survey, 82 percent were "concerned or extremely concerned" that their employer can track their web browsing on personal devices during non-work hours. Similarly, a strong majority wants their employers to keep their hands off their personal data.

Eighty-six percent described themselves as "concerned to extremely concerned" about having their personal data, like pictures, music, and email profiles, deleted without their authorization.

For businesses, those concerns could threaten to stall some BYOD initiatives. Seventy-five percent of those polled would not allow their employer to install an app that reports their whereabouts at all hours on their personal smartphone, even if the app allows access to corporate resources.

Nearly the same number, 76 percent, won't let their company look at the applications that are installed on their personal devices.

According to Christopher Clark, president at Fiberlink, it's time for businesses to start giving privacy the same consideration that they give BYOD security. "The survey results show that the vulnerability of personally identifiable information is a significant concern, and that organizations need to be just as concerned about user privacy as they are about the security of corporate data," he said in a company statement.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.




Tags: mobile, privacy, BYOD


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